US 7966563 B2
This invention relates to a system for organizing, storing, retrieving and displaying spatially related images where such images may also be relatable within time or image modality parameters. The system includes a dynamically manipulable user interface capable of visually depicting one or more images in a registerable manner, and also depicting the orientation of the image or images in relation to the surrounding neighborhood. The inventive system provides for display of panoramic image sequences consisting of multiple rows with multiple images per row, or image sequences consisting of only a single image. In a preferred embodiment, images taken from the same perspective at different times can be overlaid, and the user manipulates the display to perform real-time compare and contrast between images. In an alternate embodiment, the registered images include those created by means of different imaging modes or modalities such as, for example, visible light images and thermographic images.
1. A graphical user interface which is part of a system capable of receiving user input, manipulating stored data and outputting data in user selectable format comprising:
image display area on a display device, wherein a selectable plurality of acquired images may be controllably displayed on the display device and wherein selection of images is based on displayed multiple viewports, where each image of said plurality of images was taken by an image capture device at a unique time and where among said plurality of acquired images there are at least two sets of images, such that for any set of images, the image capture device was positioned in substantially a single real-world position and for any single-real world position of said image capture device, a plurality of orientations and fields of view are captured in said acquired images;
map area on the display device, wherein a two-dimensional rendering depicting the environs of said plurality of images and including viewports which may be selected and which, upon selection, cause to be displayed in the image display area on the display device an image corresponding to the selected view from the selected viewport and selected orientation around the selected viewport; and where said images are registered, wherein registering comprises displaying said images from the substantially single real-world position of the image capture device at the time the selected image was taken independent of the differences in image content as between the sets of images, and further in said map area a selection causing display of up to a full 360 degree view around the selected viewport, where the viewport represents the position of an imaging device, where said 360 degree view is comprised from a plurality of sets of registered images, so that said display of selected images appear as displayed multiple viewports; and
control area on the display device, wherein map area and image parameters are selected, and said parameters include modalities of time and imaging device, wherein said imaging device includes infrared, visual and thermal imaging devices.
2. A graphical user interface as described in
image display area on a display device, where said image display is a display of multiple layers in a thru view display, wherein at least one composite image may be displayed on the display device in response to selection of a first image and a selection of some portion of said first image, and selection of a second image, such that the portion of said first image appears properly oriented to the corresponding portion of said second image, wherein said first and second image are each from the same perspective and vary only in a non-spatial parameter and where at least one image is a non-CAD image taken by an imaging device, and proper orientation is independent of the content of the first and second image and dependent on the substantially identical perspective of the first and second image, such that said image display displays multiple layers in a thru view display; and
said composite is dynamically manipulable such that the movement of a user controlled device causes the selected portion of the first image to likewise move on the image display area on the display device, and the composite image changes in response to such manipulation, so the thru view provides a movable viewport.
This Application is related to provisional application 60/532,850 filed Dec. 24, 2003, the entirety of which is incorporated by this reference, and claims priority therefrom.
This invention relates to imaging, and more particularly to the spatial and temporal organization of images and related image data.
Panoramic images have been used for many years to generate both high quality printed images, and immersive images that can be viewed and manipulated through a user interface. Linked panoramic images are available in a variety of formats that allow, for example, a potential homebuyer to do a “virtual walkthrough” of a home through a web-based user interface. Significant limitations exist on the usefulness of such images as currently presented.
For example, U.S. Pat. No. 6,359,617 (Xiong) teaches algorithms for blending rectilinear images into virtual reality panoramas and modifies the images for blending, keeping track of panoramic images that are used to create final image. However, Xiong does not display constituent images in their unmodified form, and does not relate images to their environment. U.S. Pat. No. 6,173,087 (Kumar, et al) teaches a process for alignment of multiple images that does not require distortion-free images. Kumar, et al builds a composite image from multiple images, each of which is warped to fit into a reference coordinate system. Although Kumar, et al teaches producing a distortion free composite of images taken at the same point in time, it does not teach producing composite images from constituent images, each image from the same imaging point, taken at multiple points in time.
Moreover, available systems used for organizing and displaying high-quality panoramic sequences require a significant amount of computation (and, consequently, computer processing run time) in order to generate a composite image from a sequence of images. The resulting blended image suffers loss of detail from contributing images. Such loss of detail hinders generating a good model of the structures shown in the images. Furthermore, current panoramic image viewers cannot provide registered time-sequential images (that is, images taken from the same imaging point or what is referred to as “perspective”) at times that differ by days, months, or years.
What is needed is a system capable of registering multiple images where each image shares the same perspective and each image was created at a different time. What is also needed is the ability to overlay such time distinct images to record observable changes over time. Further needed is the ability to relate images into a panoramic schema while preserving the relationship between the images and the scene of interest, i.e. the neighborhood surrounding the image or images. Further needed is a dynamic user interface display means enabling users to rapidly access images, visually relate the image to its surrounding environment, move around the neighborhood and access portions of the same or different images—even images from different imaging techniques- and images taken at different times, provided any image is registerable with (taken from the same perspective) as an image desired to be viewed on the user display interface at the same time.
The invention taught herein provides a solution to the needs articulated above. The invention provides a system for displaying images, including composite images and panoramic sequences of images, where the images have been taken from the same perspective at the same or different times. The system may overlay such images to gain additional information about changes over time. The inventive system also provides a means of displaying panoramic sequences of images where such display preserves the relationship between the images as well as the orientation of images to the larger context to which the images meaningfully relate, that is, the neighborhood of the imaging location relative to the image perspective. The term “image” as used herein, is intended to include any output of any imaging source. Such imaging sources include, but are not limited to, visible light based sources, themographic sources, or any other imaging source or device.
The invention provides an image management system enabling rapid and easy retrieval and display of multiple images or collections of images, where such images are spatially related and may also be related according to non-spatial parameters. The mode or modality of the imaging device or the time of imaging, or both, may be, for example, non-spatial parameters associated with the imaging data. The inventive system provides a user interface operably associated with computational modules capable of image storage, image retrieval, image composition, and image display. The user can connect with the user interface by a variety of devices (PC. PDA, any mobile device or any other instrument with display capability), and the user interface may output a user interface display. The inventive system user interface display has an image display area and an information and control area, both contributing to the user's quick comprehension of the spatial and temporal relationship of the images selected for display. The user interface display according to the present invention is dynamically manipulable, enabling the user to select a stored map (a construction blueprint in the preferred embodiment) from the control panel, and the map appears in the image display area. The user may point and click or otherwise interact with the user interface display to simultaneously display both a feature (ex. a room wall) as well as a visual indication of the point from which the image was created, called the “image locator” (i.e. where the camera/imaging device was positioned at the time of image creation) and the visual indication of the direction the camera/imaging device was pointing when the image was created. The user can simply move around the map and other images and portions of images taken from the same perspective are seamlessly viewable. Thus, for example, a wall can be viewed from framing, through electrical installation, through drywall and finishing on the dynamically manipulable interface display.
The invention provides a user interface display that displays the images to the user in an easily understood format. In particular, the display format is especially useful to those familiar with blueprints, maps or shop drawings, including contractors, architects, or surveyors.
The invention provides a means for organizing and presenting images through the user interface display in a manner that integrates detailed information concerning any image with respect to the image sourcing environment (the position from which the image was generated) and the neighborhood in which the image sourcing device was situated. For example, the spatial relationship between a selected image retrieved by the user and neighboring images will appear on the interface display by means of the image locater within the image display area on the user interface display. The image locater assists the user by visually contextualizing the selected image within a map and showing the neighborhood or surroundings in which the image was taken.
The invention also provides for retrieving, viewing and comparing images taken at the same or different times from a selected perspective (image sourcing position) without extensive calculations slowing down the user's viewing experience. This is facilitated by use of “zone of focus” calculation and storage of calculation results for each image, establishing the orientation of the image source device with respect to each stored image.
The invention also provides a means for combining multiple viewing modes (for example a composite (
Although the discussion of the preferred embodiment and the accompanying figures may use the word “camera” or related terms, it is intended that “camera” and related terms mean any image sourcing device, that is to say, any device capable of imaging some aspect of interest, whether operable on visible light, non-visible radiation, temperature, bio-mass sensor, or any other image-able feature amenable to an image sourcing device. Although general in teaching, the invention herein described is useful in conjunction with that described in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/811,019 filed Mar. 26, 2004 entitled “System for Accurately Repositioning Imaging Devices”.
A user interface enabling the user to input various information about images or panoramic sequences of images is depicted in
Data that locates the camera station positions (106 and 112 in
The invention can be applied to, but is not limited to, the following applications: revealing hidden detail in commercial and residential construction; revealing structural details of interest to architects and engineers; revealing sun/shade patterns over the course of days or years; producing special effects for the movie and advertising industry; revealing changes in cityscapes over time; illustrating plant growth over days and years; revealing natural erosion or wear patterns; creating new art-forms with time as an element; illustrating changes occurring in interior spaces.
The embodiments set forth herein are merely illustrative of the principles and applications of the present invention. Numerous modifications may be made to the illustrative embodiments and other arrangements may be devised within the scope of the present invention as taught by the specification, the drawings, and any appended claims.